Merial Summer Veterinary Scholars, Auburn University
I was offered a position in Auburn's Merial Veterinary Scholars Program in the summer between my first and second year of veterinary school (summer 2013). The program offered a mentored research experience in an established laboratory, including seminars, discussion groups, and journal clubs. I took this position with the goal to explore a career in biomedical research as a veterinarian. My mentor, Dr. R. Reid Hanson, was the PI for a collaborative, interdisciplinary project which studied equine articular cartilage's characteristics with the goal to ultimately create a longer lasting artificial joint. During my summer project, we studied cartilage fluid load fraction and aggregate modulus of the solid cartilage matrix. My role in the project was multifaceted. I worked with two other veterinary students and two engineers on the project. The veterinary students communicated with the State Diagnostic lab when a deceased horse was brought in for necropsy or disposal. We collected the carpus, stifle, and front fetlock joints (keeping their joint capsules intact), and we transported the joints to the engineering lab. There, we dissected and isolated articular cartilage and tested the samples for properties of interest.
At the end of the summer, I created a research poster for presentation at conferences and presented our significant data to a scientific audience. Overall, the experience was invaluable and gave me deeper respect for and understanding of research. Our research is currently under review and is pending publication.
Ovarian Cancer Research Lab, Vanderbilt University
After my aunt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I applied for a position in Dr. Dineo Khabele's ovarian cancer research lab. There, I helped investigate a link in histone acetylation and ovarian cancer proliferation. I met monthly with Dr. Khabele to help perform data analysis of lab results. I was also exposed to clinical research and co-authored an abstract submitted to the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.